The more people I talk to the more I realize there are many people over 50 who want to become more fit, or they want to prevent the onset of a chronic disease such as diabetes and/or hypertension. You know you need to move and get active, but you don’t know where to start. Or maybe you have started exercise programs in the past, only to give up out of boredom or other distractions. After all, it’s always easier to go out to dinner than go to the gym.
Now you’ve decided to give it another try. Should you start a running program? What if you hate to run? Should you join a gym? What if you don’t like to, or don’t know how to lift weights. Besides, you don’t want to “bulk up.”
Exercise does not need to be difficult or complicated. Start with 10-15 minutes each day, 2-3 days per week of light aerobic exercise such as walking or riding a bike. Move to your favorite happy song in your living room. If you like cardio machines at the gym, you can use the treadmill, stationary bike or elliptical trainer. It is important to do what you enjoy. If you’re not sure what you’ll like, try them all. You can even do 5 minutes per machine. If you are not familiar with a machine be sure to ask a trainer at the gym. They are there to help you. As your body gets used to the exercise, increase the time and the intensity. The most important thing about aerobic exercise is that you choose something that is enjoyable. If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t do it for long. If you hate running, don’t run. Ride a bike. Join an exercise class at the local gym or community center. Try something you’ve never done before. Maybe you will love it!
The goal for aerobic training is 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week.
Strength training is also known as resistance training. It is lifting anything. You do not need to go to the gym to lift things. The point is to lift things that are heavy, but not so heavy that you strain a muscle. Using your own body weight is a great place to start. Simple squats and lunges are a good starting point for a lower body workout. Full water bottles or resistance bands can be used to start an upper body workout.
And what about “bulking up?” The objective of strength training is to build muscle and lose fat. I can (and will) write a whole blog post about the benefits of building muscle. For now, get used to the idea that as you begin your fitness journey you will gain muscle. Your new muscle will make you stronger and feel better. And you’ll look better, too. Who doesn’t want that?
The goal for strength training is 2 nonconsecutive days per week. Your muscles need 48 hours to recover.
If you have questions about how to start a fitness program, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.